A general idea of China’s New Copyright Law & It’s Significance

PRC National Copyright of Administration (CNAC) is responsible for nationwide copyright registration, including in provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities. This Law is enacted, in accordance with the Constitution for the purposes of protecting the copyright of authors in their literary, artistic and scientific works and rights and interests related to copyright, of encouraging the creation and dissemination of works which would contribute to the building of an advanced socialist culture and ideology and to socialist material development, and of promoting the development and flourishing of socialist culture and sciences.

For the purpose of Copyright Law,the term “works” includes works of literature, art, natural science,social science,engineering technology and the like which are created in the following forms:

  • written works
  • oral works
  • musical, dramatic, and choreographic works
  • Works of fine art and photographic works
  • cinematographic, television and video-graphic works
  • drawings of engineering designs and product designs, and descriptions thereof
  • maps,sketches and other graphic works
  • computer software
  • other works as provided for in law and administrative rules and regulations


Are there any specific provisions of your copyright laws that address the digital exploitation of works? Are there separate statutory provisions that do so?

Information network transmission rights are covered by the Copyright Law. Moreover, the Regulation on Protection of Information Network Transmission Right specifically addresses this issue. According to the Article 6 Reg. A copyright shall subsist on the date when a work is created.


  • Prima facie proof of ownership. Generally favored over testimonial evidence of copyright ownership
  • Lowers evidentiary red tape (notarization, etc)
  • Can be used to strengthen claims of infringement, including to secure takedown from websites
  • Particularly critical if using copyright as a back up to other forms of intellectual property protection


Copyright owners and the obligees related to copyright may authorize a collective management organization of copyright to exercise the copyright or the rights related to copyright. The collective management organization of copyright may, after being authorized, claim rights in its own name for the copyright owners and the obligees related to copyright, and may, as a party concerned, participate in the litigation and arbitration activities involved with copyright or the rights related to copyright.

A collective management organization of copyright shall be a non-profit organization, and the method of its establishment, its rights and obligations, the collection and distribution of the royalty for copyright licensing, as well as the supervision and management over it shall be separately provided by the State Council. Copyright owners or owners of the rights related to the copyright may authorize collective copyright administration organizations to exercise their copyright or rights related to the copyright.

Upon authorization, a collective copyright administration organization may exercise the copyright or the rights related to the copyright in its own name for the copyright owner or the owner of the rights related to the copyright and participate as a party in legal or arbitration proceedings concerning the copyright or the rights related to the copyright.

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Why Chinese Version of Copyright Law & Fair Use is Different

Since China became a signatory to the Berne Convention in 1992 and the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) in 2001, the copyright laws of this country is in line with the United States of America and other developed countries. But China has no equivalent to the American doctrine of “fair use,” which stipulates that you can reproduce a copyrighted work without permission if it falls under a range of excepted categories, such as parody or educational materials.

There is no denying that one could easily find pirated copies of DVDs, CDs and books in the Chinese market. Although the trend has dwindled a lot over the last couple of years but it is not because of the Chinese authority’s effort to curb the evil practice of piracy, it’s because the market has moved to the Internet. China is trying to deal with copyright infringement on the internet while embracing its convenience where everyone can be a news carrier or a storyteller.

For years, Foreign governments are urging China to take a stronger stand against pervasive violations of intellectual property rights on products ranging from medicines to software to DVD movies sold on the street. Mega Chinese companies such as Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent are taking this issue seriously and fighting legal cases regarding copyright infringement. Taking this into account, Chinese authorities are also joining the effort to fight counterfeit and copyright related matters. In spite of all these commendable efforts, copyright infringement is still a major problem that hasn’t been removed entirely.

Most of the young people watch American TV shows, such as Friends and the Big Bang Theory ( it is one of the first American shows to strike a deal with Chinese video streaming companies). There aren’t really any legitimate places to buy these things, so you have to go to the street dealers.

Article 22 of China’s Copyright Law-

Any invention or utility model for which patent right may be granted must possess novelty, inventiveness and practical applicability.

“Novelty” means that, before the date of filing, no identical invention or utility model has been publicly disclosed in publications in the country or abroad or has been publicly used or made known to the public by any other means in the country, nor has any other person filed previously with the patent office an application which described the identical invention or utility model and was published after the said date of filing.

“Inventiveness” means that, as compared with the technology existing before the date of filing the invention has prominent substantive features and represents a notable progress and that the utility model has substantive features and represents progress.

“Practical Applicability” means that the invention or utility model can be made or used and can produce effective results.

With the growing value of the copyrighted material in Chinese market, it is paramount for the foreign businesses to take a broader view of IP protection in this country. Licensing TV shows in China is a lucrative business. In order to make sure you are making best return from your investment take legal action when you find another media company using your copyrighted material.

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